Thanks to Parsons Behle & Latimer for its leadership gift to “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.” The firm has supported the campaign generously since it began in 1999. Hal J. Pos, Parsons’ Vice-Chairman and Shareholder, has served on the “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” Leadership Committee for 16 years, giving invaluable time and resources to ensure civil legal aid for Utah’s most vulnerable. He, in addition to James Lee and Ray Etcheverry, as well as our Emerging Legal Leader Executive Committee member Michael Young, have been major supporters and advocates of AJFA, truly believing in giving back to our community. Hal says: “Regardless of who a person is, where they are from, or their economic status, they deserve equal access to our justice system. It is a fundamental right. I am honored to work for a firm that proudly supports many nonprofit organizations through pro bono legal services, board service, mentoring, and financial contributions, and is the largest supporter of “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.”” Without the incredible people at Parsons Behle & Latimer, “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” would be less whole, and we are incredibly grateful to them for what they have done to make justice a reality for those we serve.
Health care in the United States is an issue for many. Whether it’s complicated insurance plans or complex processes, health care can be a confusing and burdensome part of life. With this being Men’s Health Week, this is a good time to reflect on the struggles many people face when trying to procure adequate medical care and receive medical treatment. Acquiring the proper services can be difficult for those who are living in poverty. Often, the government has confusing qualifications for services such as Medicaid or CHIP that make it hard for average people to properly apply. Other times, simple bureaucratic mistakes lead to benefits and services being withheld from those who are eligible for them. Without proper insight into this complex system, obtaining these services can be a nightmare, and paying for medical treatment out of pocket can lead to bankruptcy and destitution. This is where legal services can help. With the assistance of an attorney, these problems can be sorted out quickly and effectively—getting treatment to those who need it most. Another way we can help promote men’s health is through employment-related legal services. The stress of unemployment can wreak havoc on an individual’s mental and physical health. This can lead to increased blood pressure, an increased vulnerability to major depression, and self-destructive behavior such as drug and alcohol abuse. Additionally, there is a strong correlation between job-loss and suicide. A study by the Center for Disease Control found that suicide rates rise and fall alongside the business cycle. By providing legal services to help with unemployment, we can combat the negative health effects that can come with job loss and help to prevent the tragedy of suicide. If you or someone you know could benefit from legal services, please do some research here to see if you qualify, or call the Community Legal Center at 801-363-1347 and go through the intake process. Our attorneys can help eligible individuals in need get what they deserve.
On June 1, 1996, over 300,000 people rallied in Washington, DC for “Stand for Children Day” at the Lincoln Memorial. This was the largest demonstration in U.S. history in support of children. Civil rights movement icon Rosa Parks made a statement that challenged the people of our nation to commit to improving the lives of children, saying, “If I can sit down for justice, you can stand up for children.” Today, 19 years later, Ms. Parks’ words still hold strong. Children across the country need our help, and whether it’s escaping poverty, gaining protection from abusive parents, securing government aide, or acquiring assistive technology legal services can dramatically change the lives of children in need for the better. Across America, children are mired in poverty. According to a report from UNICEF, the U.S. ranks near the bottom of developed nations in terms of children living in poverty. Nearly one third of U.S. children live in households with an income below 60% of the national median income in 2008 – about $31,000 annually. And while many have lamented about the cruelty of the wealthiest nation in the world housing 1 out of 3 children in poverty, we can all agree: children need all the help they can get. This is where legal services can fit in. One of the largest obstacles families face in the battle against poverty is the inability to acquire legal services, and that’s why the “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” partner agencies work to make sure struggling Utah families have access to justice. If a family has just experienced job loss and is facing eviction from their apartment, attorneys can help. If a mother of three is fleeing an abusive spouse and needs protection, attorneys can help. When a father has cancer and has been wrongfully denied Medicare, attorneys can help. If a hearing impaired two-year-old like Gracie is denied assistive technology that could help her hear, develop and learn like other toddlers her age, attorneys can help. In all of these situations and many others, legal services can serve as a desperately-needed buffer between struggling families and Read More »
With May being mental health awareness month, this is an appropriate time to reflect on the challenges facing those struggling with mental illness and what can be done to help. The needs of people with mental illness often go unaddressed. This includes the 12% of the population in Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele counties who have been diagnosed with a mental illness (Justice Gap Publication). This invisible disability can be incredibly difficult to cope with as it may impact many areas of an individual’s life. For some, the sheer effort required to deal with daily activities can be overwhelming. One way we can help those with mental illness is by providing legal services. Attorneys specializing in disability law can provide legal advice and representation. First of all, these services can help individuals secure appropriate accommodations, allowing them to maintain work or benefit from their education. Helping children and adults receive needed mental health and independent living support in their community, rather than being isolated in hospitals or institutions is another important function of non-profit legal services. Most importantly, legal advocates with the right to access institutional environments including jails and prisons can put a stop to illegal abuse and neglect that exacerbates mental health issues. Mental illness can intensify economic problems and make escaping poverty incredibly difficult. Legal services to help with family, housing, and employment issues can unburden someone who may be in a seemingly hopeless situation and allow them to take steps forward to a better tomorrow. People with health conditions, including mental illness, are often vulnerable to manipulation by those around them. When dealing with matters of trust and estate, it is important that individuals coping with mental illness are represented by a competent attorney who will ensure their rights are protected. Another less obvious benefit of legal services is helping to prevent mental illness. Mental illness can triggered by traumatic experiences. Children who are victims of domestic violence are particularly susceptible. Legal services can help secure protective orders and other measures to shelter a family from an abusive parent, spouse, or partner. So, whether it’s acquiring Read More »
Root causes of suicide are endless. A lot of the focus in preventing suicide is promoting mental health awareness. And while focusing on mental health is an important part of shedding light on this silent massacre, we must also examine how periods of instability, financial hardship and familial calamity can cause people to take their lives in a moment of hopeless despair … … and how a lawyer can help. Last year, this blog post shared that there are more Americans taking their lives today than during the depths of the Great Depression. Economic hardship and the financial crisis are to blame. “The number of deaths by suicide has surpassed car crashes, and many connect the increase in suicides to the downturn in the economy. Around 35,000 Americans kill themselves each year … “ And why do more people kill themselves during severe economic downturns? “Unemployment and foreclosure are the largest triggers in increased suicide risk,” the article states. The “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” partners – the Disability Law Center, Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake and Utah Legal Services – help thousands of clients each year overcome periods of extreme financial distress and economic hardship by assisting people with education and employment matters or overturning wrongful evictions, or another legal action. In fact, in 2013, 3,448 households were helped to secure and protect access to housing, food and utility assistance and financial assistance. Another 392, were helped with education and employment matters, including access to vocational rehabilitation services. Suicide.org lists other causes of suicide, some of which are: A divorce, separation, or breakup of marriage Losing custody of children or feeling that a child custody decision isn’t fair A serious loss, such as the loss of a job, house or money Being victimized (domestic violence) Feeling hopeless Serious legal problems Each of these serious issues can be resolved at the Community Legal Center, a place that is often the last hope for disadvantaged families struggling with life-shattering problems. So if you see the warning signs for suicide in a friend, colleague or family member, first, tell them you are there for them, because often all a Read More »
“AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” serves as an umbrella organization for Utah’s nonprofit civil legal aid agencies-—the Disability Law Center, Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake, and Utah Legal Services. The mission for each of these organizations is to provide legal services to low-income and disabled Utahns. The Emerging Legal Leaders (ELL) strive to encourage young attorneys to get involved in access to justice initiatives as an essential part to their professional development. The group is comprised of attorneys who are emerging as leaders in the community and will engage a new generation of lawyers by providing resources to develop their leadership, networking, and business development skills in order to advance their legal careers in a fun, altruistic environment. Active participation in the ELL helps members expand their professional networks and raise their profiles, meet professional ethical obligations, further develop their professional skills and achieve philanthropic goals. Learn more by going to http://andjusticeforall.org/emerging-legal-leaders/. The Emerging Legal Leaders is in the initial stages of formation and is seeking inaugural members for the executive committee with the opportunity to take the initiative of implementing expectations and policies for its membership. The inaugural members of the executive committee will be responsible for establishing the structure and developing annual events which would solidify the organization’s influence in supporting access to justice initiatives within the legal community. A new group like the ELL, with no established skeletal structure, will require deep commitment from executive committee members to ensure success in establishing this board as an influential organization composed of elite young attorneys in the beginning of their professional careers. This commitment is essential to the successful launch of the Emerging Legal Leaders. We encourage any motivated attorneys to apply by downloading the application form here. August 29th is the deadline to receive all applications. Thank you! We look forward to working with you.
Congressman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania has introduced the “Helping Families and Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013.” He ought to be commended for focusing on the needs of individuals with the most serious and persistent mental illnesses, and for including several provisions designed to significantly strengthen the community mental health system. However, a broad coalition of organizations believes the bill takes the wrong approach. HR 3717 increases reliance on court-ordered involuntary treatment and forced medication. It also tilts the membership of several federal policy, planning, and advisory bodies away from individuals living with mental illness toward licensed medical professionals. It eliminates all Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration mental health programs not specifically reauthorized by an act of Congress. Finally, it reduces funding for the Disability Law Center ’s protection and advocacy program for those living with severe mental illness by 85%. The mental health system is in crisis. However, the answer is not to perpetuate discrimination against individuals with mental illness or deprive them of their rights. Instead, we must enhance and expand the community-based infrastructure to ensure our families, friends, and neighbors with mental health needs have the necessary supports and resources to be active, productive, and contributing members of our community. Adina Zahradnikova Executive Director, Disability Law Center
Leslie Francis President, “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” Board of Trustees “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” is unique nationally, bringing together agencies that serve many needs under one roof and one fundraising umbrella. To me, it represents the very best of cooperation and a model for others to follow. AJFA’s recent study about return on investment shows that every dollar donated results in $7.27 in social return. This illustrates how important this work is to our community.
Rod Snow The motto adopted by the State Bar’s Pro Bono Commission as they commenced their work under the able leadership of Rob Rice in 2011 was taken from a quote of Judge Learned Hand: “Thou shalt not ration justice.” Unfortunately, that is exactly what we are doing in this country. I say not to diminish the great work of “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” and its subsidiary organizations or those who do pro bono work every week for the less fortunate, but to emphasize the point more needs to be done. We need more financial resources and more lawyers shouldering the responsibility we all share to assist the widow and the fatherless to bring them the justice they richly deserve. And it is justice that is the bedrock of our freedoms and democracy. Our Courts are the glue that hold us together—the opportunity for impartial adjudication of our rights and our differences. We need more cement and steel; and so the call goes out to all of us to provide our support. As Daniel Webster said: Justice is the greatest interest of man on earth. It is the ligament which holds civilized beings and nations together. Wherever her Temple stands, and so long as it is duly honored, there is a foundation for general security, general happiness, and the improvement and progress of our race. Please help shore up the foundation on which this nation was founded. None of us can afford to let our foundation crack or fracture. Thank you.
Peter Corroon Dear Colleagues, Throughout my legal and political career, I have seen the justice gap which exists in our great state of Utah firsthand. According to a study ” commissioned several years ago, 67.5% of low-income households will face a civil legal dispute this year, ranging from cases in family law, such as child custody or divorce, to cases of domestic abuse. Many times, however, these households are unable to afford an attorney. In fact, only 13% of low-income households who faced a civil legal matter reported receiving legal aid from an attorney. Sadly, this leaves over 87% of low-income households facing civil legal matters without access to an attorney, often times because the household lacks finances for the legal aid they need. During my time as Mayor of Salt Lake County, I attempted to work with partners in the valley to reduce the justice gap we face. Investing in organizations such as “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” gives hope to low-income individuals facing civil legal disputes by giving them access to an attorney who can properly represent them. With a social return on investment of $7.27, “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” makes a powerful difference in the access to justice of low-income households and on the community at large. Additionally, the work of the three organizations saves the courts (and thus saves Utah tax payers) an estimated $1,834,936 every year. I urge you to consider investing in Utah’s justice system by giving to “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” today through the Love Utah, Give Utah campaign. Through “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL’s” partnership with Utah Legal Services, the Disability Law Center, and the Legal Aid Society of Utah, your generous donation will work towards giving access to justice to all Utahns, closing the justice gap that exists in our state today.